Thanksgiving in the USA (10)

The last day of my trip was a Sunday and Mike treated me to a cooked breakfast before he drove me to Glenmont metro station for my journey to downtown Washington to spend another day on my own before catching my flight home. First, I made my way to the Capital Hilton Hotel where I left my luggage for the day. I was then free to embark on a self-organised walking tour of the major monuments in the centre of the city. The weather was chilly but bright and, in three and a half hours, I covered all the 10 monuments on my list.

1) The White House – OK, I know this is not a monument as such but it is certainly an iconic building. The north side was closed off as workers constructed stands for the inauguration of Donald Trump in January. On the south side, there was the traditional view of the ‘back’ of the building. A long time ago, I went on an official tour of the White House.
2) The Washington Monument – This imposing structure rises 555 feet (165 metres) and can be seen from many parts of downtown. Completed in 1884, it is now opened again after repairs necessitated by the earthquake of 2011. On two previous visits to DC, I have ridden to the top of the monument.
3) The World War II Memorial – This is located at the east end of the Reflecting Pool and it is a huge structure commemorating the service of some 16M members of the armed forces. It was inaugurated in 2004 and it was the first time that I have seen it.
4) The Vietnam Memorials -There is the black tapered wall with the names of 58,267 dead (1982), the Three Servicemen Statue (1984), and the Women’s Memorial (1993) and this was very much a repeat viewing for me.
5) The Lincoln Memorial – This is located at the west end of the Reflecting Pool and, as well as the huge seated statute of Lincoln, there are side walls with the full text of the Gettysburg Address and an extract from his Second Inaugural Address. Completed in 1922, I have made several visits here.
6) The Korean War Veterans Memorial – This commemorates the 54,246 Americans who were killed in this conflict and consists mainly of a series of white figures with capes. It was opened in 1995 and I have seen it a couple of times before.
7) The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial – At the centre of this structure is a huge statue of Dr King with folded arms and then, to either side, there are stone walls with quotes from his speeches and writings. This is the first time that I have seen this memorial which only opened in 2011.
8) The Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial – This is the most spacious of all the memorials I viewed with an area for each of FDR’s four terms as president plus lots of quotes. It opened in 1997 and I visited it on my last visit to Washington in 2014.
9) The George Mason Memorial – Mason is sometimes called “the forgotten Founding Father”. He was instrumental in framing the Constitution and creating the Bill of Rights. The memorial is the most intimate of those I viewed, being a slightly larger-than-life seated and smiling bronze figure. Although it was erected in 2002, I had not seen it before.
10) The Thomas Jefferson Memorial – Located on the Tidal Basin, the bronze statue of the Founding Father is accompanied with a couple of quotes and set inside a large cupola. This is one of my favourite DC monuments: grand without being grandiose.

One daytime observation was around the White House armed men in black uniforms (and sometimes masks) with prominent Secret Service labels. One nighttime observation was ventilation grills emitting warm air with homeless individuals sitting or lying on them.

My flight home was on a British Airways Boeing 777-300. I had an interesting experience before boarding. At check in, I asked for an aisle seat but the woman member of staff could only give me a middle seat in a row of three. Then, as I was actually about to board the aircraft, my name was announced on the loudspeaker system and, when I came forward, the same member of staff appeared and gave me an aisle seat by the exit! This might have had something to do with the fact that, when we talked earlier, I learned that she was from Lebanon and I spoke a bit of Arabic to her.

I’m home now …


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>